Category Archives: Television

Richard Ha on PBS Hawai‘i’s “Long Story Short”

I just sat and watched the PBS program Long Story Short, with Leslie Wilcox. The episode featured Richard, and I “live blogged.”

Well, sort of. I didn’t post it as I went. But here’s a delayed live blogging post:

7:30 p.m. They used a lot of Macario’s photos from this blog (with permission, of course). Wow, Macario, great pictures. They really illustrate Richard’s story nicely.

7:32 I know how many stories and thoughts and opinions Richard has, and when Leslie Wilcox asks a question I can see his head spinning. There’s a lot going on in that head. Richard, you’re doing great!

7:34 Wow, it was really matter-of-fact the way he told Leslie they used to make sugar cane rockets – like everybody knows about sugar cane rockets. He just said, “I don’t know if anybody’s any happier that has all kinds of toys,” and I’ll bet he’s right.

7:38 I like everything I’ve ever heard about Richard’s father and wish I’d met him. I hope I can teach my own child the same sorts of important life lessons that Richard got from his Pop.

7:41 It’s funny that he describes his early farming activity as qualifying as “big business” as soon as he had more employees than could fit into his station wagon.

7:47 It’s neat how everything Richard talks about and works on can be traced back to the same subjects: Making sure farmers can farm so there’s enough food in these islands; taking care of the next generation so they can lead sustainable lives here. It all comes down to supporting farmers so we can feed our people.

7:52 I love that Richard’s workers get to come to the farm every Thursday to pick up vegetables for their family for the week. What a useful, practical benefit of employment. Also delicious.

7:53 Leslie Wilcox just asked, What do you see yourself doing in 10 years? and Richard said he cannot imagine. I believe that. In the short time I’ve known Richard, I’ve watched as his interests have evolved and turned corners –without his ever losing focus of what is important. Earlier she talked about Principal Lehua Veincent (of Keaukaha Elementary School) doing everything from the perspective of “what is the pono thing to do right now.” That’s definitely Richard, too. I’ve never met someone so caring and also so ethical, at the same time.

7:57 Nice program. If you missed it, they just announced that it will repeat on the radio on Sunday morning (11/16/08) at 7 a.m. That’s on KUMU 74.7 FM.

The TV program will play again on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 on PBS Hawai‘i.

And I just found a page where you can download Richard’s Long Story Short interview as a podcast. They have other interesting segments there, too, that you might want to explore.


Richard Tapes Segment for PBS Hawaii

I received this invitation from PBS Hawaii a short time ago and Monday I flew to O‘ahu to do the taping:

The production staff at PBS Hawaii is thrilled that you’re interested in joining us for an interview with Leslie Wilcox, our President and CEO, for Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox.

I really like the fact that Leslie Wilcox is the new CEO of PBS. She lives in Waialua and is a real local girl, with local sensibilities, and PBS’s excellent programming shows it. She is so easy to know. It was like I’ve known her all my life.

And the interview was just like talking story. I might have said more than I needed to.

These schedules include time for you to receive HD styling for your hair and make up (which is a lot of fun, really).

I’m a veteran with hair and makeup, having done this for the Howard Dicus show awhile back. But this time I also received an eyebrow trim. I was asked if I minded, and next thing I knew part of my eyebrow was flying half way across the room. I just now came back from looking at it from all angles in the mirror. I guess it’s okay.

Please dress warmly – our studio is very cold (often below 60 degrees).

Yep, the camera people all dressed like the Unabomber.

Hawaii’s only regular program produced and broadcast in HD (high definition), Long Story Short is edited from a full interview into a half-hour program that we hope goes beyond the usual who-you-are, what-you-do Q&A to really reveal people’s character – beyond their accomplishments. We hope to share your story with our viewers in such a way that we expose your inner drive and personal passions.

I did not mean to, but I told some stories I had not thought of for 40 years. Something to do with running full-blast past the ghosts just in time to get dirty licking. It was Leslie’s fault.

Still in its first year, the program has already featured in-depth, one-on-one interviews with a diverse group of guests: Keali’i Reichel, Nona Beamer, Anne Namba, Brian Keaulana, Judge Sam King and Mayor Harry Kim. Coming up, we’ll feature Skylark Rossetti and Pat Saiki, two women from Hawai’i Island. Now we’re thrilled to include your name on that list.

The only reason I can figure why they called me is that “sustainability” must be top of mind. That is what I’ve been spending most of my time on recently. Maybe they were looking for Richard HO? Or Richard Hall? And got me by mistake?

I hope you’ll take the time to visit our website, where you’ll see dedicated web pages for each of our local programs, Leslie Wilcox’s new blog and our mission:

PBS Hawaii is a private non-profit organization whose mission is, “to inform, inspire and entertain by sharing high-quality programming and services that add value to our diverse island community.”

PBS Hawaii has a rich history of presenting educational and enlightening series like Sesame Street and Nova alongside award-winning, local productions like Na Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song. No organization in Hawai’i provides the quality and quantity of instructional and cultural programming at no charge to viewers statewide as PBS Hawaii.

I found out that PBS bought the national Chefs Afield series. That’s the one that featured Chef Alan Wong at Keaukaha School, where the students welcomed him with a chant, and where we cooked several pigs in the imu. Chef Alan made some really special dishes that evening – imagine taking home leftovers from Chef Alan Wong. And Kapono gave the blessing in Hawaiian with family and farmers in attendance. Really local style.

The season will premier this spring featuring Chef Alan, the cookout at Hamakua Springs and other Big Island venues. And, the special part – Keaukaha Elementary School goes national!

The invitation continues:

Just to make sure you know where and when to find Long Story Short, here are a few tips:

• Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is broadcast at 7:30pm on Tuesdays and 2:30pm on Sundays on PBS Hawaii. The audio portion of the program is broadcast on the radio on KUMU 94.7 FM at 7:00am on Sundays. And you can also download audio files and written transcripts of Long Story Short programs on our website at

• PBS Hawaii can be viewed over-the-air on Channel 11 and on Oceanic Channel 10, Digital Channel 84 and HD Digital Channel 1010. The program may also be available “on demand” to Oceanic digital cable subscribers on Channel 110 (click Tuesday then KHET) for up to a week.

Wendy Suite, the show’s producer, sent me the above invitation. Now I know what producers do. She said, “Leslie will be here to meet and chat with you. Don’t tell her too many stories. I don’t want you to end up on the air just nodding politely after you run out of stories.” She laughed as she said it.

I didn’t tell her, but I don’t run out of things to say.


Emmy Award-Nominated!

We were happy to see that Chefs A’ Field, that PBS series that did an episode on Chef Alan Wong recently, has been nominated for an Emmy!

While they were here, the Chefs A’ Field people accompanied Alan Wong and Richard to Keaukaha Elementary School, where Chef Alan had adopted the 6th grade through our Adopt-a-Class program, and videotaped him teaching them about cooking and also a little bit about life. It’s scheduled to air sometime in 2009 — we’ll keep you posted on that.

Here is some information about the Emmy Award nomination. Our huge congratulations to them on a really impressive achievement.

Chefs A’ Field: Kids on the Farm

WASHINGTON, DC – May 1, 2008:
The public television series Chefs A’ Field: Kids on the Farm has been nominated by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a 2008 Daytime Emmy Award. The awards recognize outstanding achievement in television production broadcast in the 2007 calendar year. The series was nominated in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Photography. The coveted Emmy will be presented at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards broadcast live on ABC Friday, June 20th  at 8:00 pm, from Hollywood’s famed Kodak Theatre.

Last month, Chefs A’ Field: Kids on the Farm was awarded the 2008 Parents’ Choice Award for excellence in family programming. This national award recognizes programming that exceeds standards set by educators, scientists, artists, librarians, parents, and kids themselves.

In other news, Chefs A’ Field: Kids on the Farm is in the midst of field production for a fourth season, with shoots in Washington DC, Mexico, Alaska, California, Hawaii, and Virginia. In the coming months the series will continue its culinary adventures traveling throughout the United States filming America’s best chefs and their kids as well as the stellar farmers and fishermen the chefs rely on. Thirteen exciting new episodes will be released on public television in Spring 2009.

Currently in its third season, many have described Chefs A’ Field’s “green cuisine” approach as “a cooking series with a conscience…bringing the important issues of sustainability and the environment to forefront…without getting preachy.”

In over 40 episodes filmed so far the series explores the vital relationship between great chefs and their food sources. Each episode features one of America’s best chefs traveling to the field to explore the offerings of their local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. The chef then returns to the kitchen, where ingredients are transformed into delectable dishes.  As the chefs interact with the farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, viewers see how environmental practices make a difference in how foods taste and hold their nutritional value. Shot in locations across the United States and abroad, the high-definition series showcases regional cuisine and is filled with picturesque scenes shot at the peak of seasonal harvest.

ABOUT THE SERIES: Chefs A’ Field currently airs on public television stations nationwide–check your local listings or visit for national listings.  The series is a co-production of Warner Hanson Television (Washington, DC) & KCTS 9 (Seattle, WA) and is distributed by American Public Television (Boston, MA).

SPONSORS: Chefs A’ Field is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Whole Foods Markets,  W.K. Kellogg Foundation, USDA/SARE (CSREES), The Park Foundation, Seeds of Change, Topco/Full Circle Food, The Wallace Genetic Foundation, California Strawberry Commission, Walnut Marketing Board.

CREDITS: Producers: Heidi Hanson & Chris Warner; Writer/Narrator: Jed Duvall; Directors of Photography: Tim Murray, Mark Thalman, & Chris Warner; Editors: Rachel Vasey, Don Lampasone, & Chris Warner; For KCTS 9: Executive Producer: Jay Parikh; Production Manager: Tom Niemi; Station Relations: Shaylan Frazee

PARTICIPATING CHEFS: John Besh, Michael Mina, Joseph Wrede, Bruce Sherman, Robert Weidmaier, Richard Sandoval, Mitchell & Steven Rosenthal, Cathal Armstrong, Michel Nischan, Jason Wilson.

ADDITIONAL AWARDS:  James Beard, CINE, Chicago Film Festival Hugo, Film Advisory Board, New York Festivals, White House Photographer Awards, Food & Wine Tastemaker Award, and others.

MERCHANDISE: Chefs A’ Field DVD’s and Cookbooks are available by phone KCTS 9-Channel 9 Store (800) 937-5387 or visiting &



Living Local

Gloria Baraquio visited the farm recently and taped a segment with Richard for the program Living Local, which she and her sisters do for cable station OC16. The segment is running now.

It repeats throughout the week on this schedule:

Wednesday, 1/16 at 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, 1/17 at 3:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Friday, 1/18 at 10 a.m.
Saturday, 1/19 at 2:30 p.m.

The show’s tagline is “All Sisters, One Show, Totally Local.” Here’s how the high-profile sisters describe their 30-minute weekly program:

Hanging out Hawaiian-style, eating Pacific Rim cuisine, listening to island rhythms, meeting local celebrities and learning about the kama’aina culture is exactly what Living Local® is all about … Concluding its fourth year on the air, “Living Local with the Baraquios” is a half-hour family entertainment TV talk show that features all the great people, places, things and fun history about Hawaii. The high-quality production is presented through the eyes of young, professional women, who just happen to be sisters. All are born and raised in Hawaii.

The show appeals to Hawaii residents and visitors of all ages. Its intention is to promote the local culture and concept of family through visual and compelling stories.

Living Local with the Baraquios airs on Mondays at 8pm on OC16, and shows multiple encore presentations throughout the week.

If you get a chance to see the segment this week, please let us know. We’d love to hear what you think. —posted by Leslie Lang


Living Local

Gloria Baraquio called a couple of weeks ago and asked if they could feature Hamakua Springs Country Farms on a segment of Living Local with the Baraquios, which will air on OC16 in January. “Of course, I’d love it,”€ I told her.

In addition to the TV program, Gloria writes a weekly column in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and I’m a big fan. One of my favorites was when she described the local protocol for calling people aunty, sistah, bruddah or cuz.

She writes her column about real things on the Big Island. Not about how we imagine things to be, but how they truly are. From her writing, she strikes me as being a very “real” person.

When she and G. Cruz arrived for the filming yesterday, we went down to the tomato houses to do an interview and she asked about our farming philosophy. I told her we try to be competitive in the present while moving our company to where it needs to be in the future. Right now this means preparing for a future of rising energy costs and converting to using our natural resources for energy instead of fossil fuel sources.

Over the course of the interview yesterday I came to respect Gloria even more. That she lives in lower Puna, on “catchment” and “off the grid,” says it all for me. A person who catches rain water and is not connected to the public utility’€™s electricity grid is someone who looks at life in a very basic way. She loves the spirituality of lower Puna.

We farmed at Koa‘e in Kapoho in the old days. Maybe that’s why I relate to her column so strongly.

During our interview it clouded over and started raining, but I went ahead and asked Gloria if she would like to see where we are developing our hydroelectric project. I told her the grass would be wet and that the wooden plank over the flume was older than we know. But how did I know, rain or not, that she would want to go? She did.

We drove up the bumpy, four-wheel drive road to the mauka-Hilo corner of our property. I pointed out an old plantation flume that runs under the road and down a small waterfall on its way to the ocean. We parked a hundred yards further on up the road.

Kimo led the way and then came Gloria, G. Cruz with the camera and me, carrying the tripod. The 12-foot plank over the flume was maybe an inch and a half thick. You can’t even tell it’€™s a wooden blank because of the thick moss that grows on it. The far side of the plank is maybe a foot or more lower than the near side. And there is less than a foot of shoulder between the end of the plank and the river.

But Gloria was so interested in seeing what was going on with the flume that crossing it wasn’t even an issue to her.

The flume runs parallel to the river, and she and G. decided they wanted to film at the most dangerous spot. They walked along the narrow path separating the flume from the river and across another old plank, maybe 10 inches wide, over the top of a waterfall that dropped 20 feet to the river below. I was a little worried about rescuing them if they fell. And then they continued to a four-inch concrete lip to a small dam.

Gloria decided she would walk out on the narrow dam, crouch down and do her narrative from there. And by then it was raining seriously.

She knew in her mind what she wanted and she was fearless in its pursuit.

I have a lot of respect for her.


On the Tube

Want to see some of our tasty, sweet, colorful, juicy heirloom tomatoes? There’s some video of our heirloom tomatoes up at the Kama‘aina Backroads website.

These are amazing tomatoes. They’re the kind of tomatoes people dream about. When you watch Richard slice into them and see what they look like inside, you can almost taste them.

Our friends at Kama‘aina Backroads, of course, are exploring the Big Island bit by bit. Along the way they are documenting some of the interesting traditional, cultural, and other Island ways of life we enjoy here. The Kama‘aina Backroads television program is broadcast throughout the state on Time-Warner’s OC-16, where it reaches more than 800,000 households.

That’s a lot of households that got to watch Executive Chef Bill Heubel, of the Sheraton Keauhou Resort & Spa, work with and display our heirloom tomatoes to their best advantage. By the way, black Moloka‘i salt – who knew? If your answer was, “Not me!” go watch the video. (I didn’t know about it, either).

Watch the video to the end and you’ll see a bit of what it looks like here at Hamakua Springs Country Farms, and see and hear Richard talk about how he got started in farming.

Have a look! —posted by Leslie Lang


Two Tidbits Today (say THAT three times fast!)

1) Since we started this blog back in May, more than one person has asked me about how one starts and maintains a company blog.

Now I am pleased to be able to point you to an excellent article at called Marketing Your Business With a Blog. And not only did Brian Brown put together this great information on how to start a company blog, he also points to Ha Ha Ha! as an example of how to do it well.

Brown runs the Small Business Blog of the Day website, which selected our blog back in June. We are truly flattered to again be highlighted for doing a good job here.

2) Remember when the television program Kama‘aina Backroads was here recently, taping a segment on Hamakua Springs? If you missed seeing the program on TV, here’s your chance.

Roland Torres, who produces the excellent new series, tells us the episode with the Hamakua Springs segment can be viewed on their website for a short time. Have a look.

The website states the video is for subscribers only, but Roland says that friends of Hamakua Springs are welcome to watch. So if you didn’t catch the program when it was on, or if you don’t live in our area, this is your chance. He tells us it will only be available for another couple weeks, so hurry. — posted by Leslie Lang


On the Small Screen

Kama‘aina Backroads, the interesting new cable television program that takes a local—not visitor-oriented—look at the “cultural perspective, traditions and island way of life” in Hawai‘i, came and shot some footage at Hamakua Springs earlier this week.

Roland Torres

Roland Joseph Torres, the program’s O‘ahu-born creator, says they’d been filming at the Keauhou Sheraton when he tasted the restaurant’s delicious heirloom tomatoes and was transfixed. Hot on the tomatoes’ trail, he loaded up the van and headed over to Hamakua Springs Country Farms to check out the farm (and taste some more).

It was fun to watch Roland (shown here with his camera) and assistant Harpal sample the heirlooms (“Broke da mouth!” said Roland) and learn a little about what drives Hamakua Springs.

Richard told them how it’s always taste that determines what they decide to grow on the farm, not ease of growing or handling or shipping; that they find the tastiest product they can find first, and then figure out how to grow it.

He drove them up to see the source of free, abundant water that will eventually power much of the farm operation and we watched as Roland held onto overhead branches and crossed a rickety old plantation bridge to look at the stream.

Roland Torres







Richard told the camera how sustainability—of the land, the employees, the community—is foremost, and how he makes farm-based decisions based on the family’s intent to still be farming in 100 years.

It was great to watch this interesting new program put together a small segment about the farm. It’s just one part of the Kama‘aina Backroads program that airs tomorrow—Saturday, 11/11/06, at 9 p.m. on Oceanic Cable 16.

Roland Torres has an extensive background in television production, having worked on television series for KFOX-TV, the AMC Television Network, PBS and more. In 1996, he won an Emmy for his work on a “Get the Vote Out” series targeting Hispanic youth.

In case you don’t get a chance to see the Kama‘aina Backroads program when it airs tomorrow, Roland says he will post some of it on his Kama‘aina Backroads website. I’ll post a link to it when it’s available. —posted by Leslie Lang


Avon Calling

Diane Ley, of the County’s Research and Development branch, asked if I would do an interview with Howard Dicus for a segment of the public television program PBN Friday. I thought it might be related to June and me receiving a Best Farmer award at the Hawaii Agriculture Conference this Thursday.

Here is the information I got from Howard Dicus:

“The PBS Hawaii studios are at the corner of Dole and University, across from the UH campus….It would be good if they could arrive by 9 a.m., which will leave plenty of time for them to get their TV make-up on before we start taping. The make-up lady will also REMOVE the TV make-up after the taping if they don’t want to go around town looking like movie stars.

“I’m working on the script for the all-food show, and as it stands now it opens with Andy Hashimoto, who has separately confirmed, then Richard Ha will be on second, Joan Namkoong third, and chef Ming Tsai on the couch. I’m treating Ha, at least for purposes of beginning the segment, as a representative example of the Big Island farmer who raises a number of crops.”

As soon as I got the instructions I started preparing mentally. Many years ago, when I did a TV presentation with Dr Jack Fujii, former Dean of the College of Agriculture at the UH Hilo, I had a bad experience. I had diligently prepared for the presentation, but the red light on the live camera blindsided me.

That time it was as if a million people were staring at me through the lens below the red light. And to my horror, I had found my mouth jogging ahead of my brain. I had no idea what I was talking about and I was sure I was sweating profusely.

I wanted to be sure this wouldn’t happen again, so this time I prepared myself for that red light. At first I imagined that behind the lens there would be an average person wearing boxer shorts, no shirt and a three-day-old stubble. This, I thought, would be an easy person to relate to. But then the thought popped into my mind that that guy’s family kitty might be named “Spike.” Suddenly that image seemed unpredictable and possibly unreliable, and I worried it might make me start sweating again.

So instead I imagined a nice couple with two young children, two doggies and a kitty named “Kitty.” I practiced on my flight over to O‘ahu by imagining the “Fasten Seat Belt” light was the red light on top of the camera. After a few tries, I realized I would have no problems with this nice family and with the red light. I was very comfortable.


But then I started worrying about the makeup—would they ask me to put on lipstick? No way, I thought. I don’t do lipstick. But it might really help our farm if I made a good impression on public television, I thought, so maybe colored ChapStick would be okay. But no lipstick. Absolutely not.

I found the PBS station, no problem. And soon after arriving it was my turn for makeup. I asked Dean Hashimoto, the Dean of the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture, to take a picture of me getting made up. The last time I remember putting on makeup was when I was in the fourth grade and they made my cheeks red for a Christmas play. I’m pretty sure this might be the last time I ever get made up.

Dean Hashimoto was up first and he spoke about the College of Ag and its programs. I remember that he did a really good job.

Then it was my turn to be interviewed. I wanted to talk about sustainability, our close partnership with Chef Alan Wong, how we would not be anything without our wonderful employees, our Food Safety certification and more. But the absolute only thing I remember about the interview was what Howard Dicus told me before it started: “Before you know it, it’s over.”

He was right. Before I knew it, it was over and I didn’t remember one thing I said. Not one thing.

(It airs on Friday, November 24 at 7:30 p.m. on PBS Hawai‘i, by the way, if you want to see what I said. I know I do.)

I walked off and Joan Namkoong went on. I remember that she talked about her cookbook and the Kapi‘olani Farmers Market and she did great.

And then it was all over. The only thing left to do was have the makeup person remove the makeup–unless I wanted to walk around looking like a movie star. I thought, Hmm, I could walk around looking like a movie star? And I walked out the door.

It didn’t take me any time at all to realize that no one noticed or cared. I got a phone call, and afterward I realized the makeup might have smeared, leaving me with a dirty face. This must be what women worry about. This is more than I wanted to know about makeup.

So to recap, I met an imaginary nice family on the other side of the red light, I learned something about wearing makeup, and there was absolutely nothing in between. Very interesting day.